IS THAT ALL?

Thank pathological liar Donald Trump, shady Gov. Rick Scott and a politicized FBI for making Andrew Gillum’s alleged ‘corruption’ unbelievable and irrelevant to Florida’s critical 2018 gubernatorial election.

BY CHARLES W. CHERRY II
FLORIDA COURIER PUBLISHER

CAROLYN COLE/LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS Some pundits and most Republicans think the Florida gubernatorial race should be decided by a Broadway show ticket. We disagree.

Andrew Gillum’s “October surprise” has finally been revealed.

From the first minute Gillum unexpectedly won the Democratic primary election in August, “woke’’ Black folks knew it was coming, but we didn’t know what it would be.

Would it be allegations of a disgruntled girlfriend (or boyfriend) from his undergraduate days at Florida A&M University? Baby mama drama? An extramarital “side piece” or “jumpoff”? (That’s “a mistress” for those without online access to the Urban Dictionary.)

None of the above
Those of us who keep up with Florida politics knew it would be related to the ongoing Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) probe going on at Tallahassee’s City Hall.

Long story short: The FBI heard of possible backroom deals involving economic development in the city. They put in undercover agents who infiltrated Gillum’s inner circle; “flipped” one of Gillum’s old “friends’’ to feed them information; then took Gillum, his wife, family and friends on some frolics, including trips to Costa Rica and to New York, where they saw the hit Broadway show, “Hamilton.”

Umm. Okay.

Any recordings of a hand-to-hand transaction of Gillum taking cash from an undercover agent? No. Any audio of Gillum talking directly or indirectly about a nefarious plot to use his Tallahassee mayoral office for personal gain? No.

Any video of Gillum in a hotel exclaiming, “Bitch set me up!” as the FBI busts open his hotel room door in the luxurious Costa Rica resort? NO.

A text message

What evidence has come out thus far? Via text, Gillum acknowledged that somebody bought theater tickets for him and his brother. But Gillum’s text didn’t indicate who paid for them.

So for the cost of a “Hamilton” ticket (currently about $600 for a decent seat), Floridians are expected to turn over TWO branches of state government ‒ the governor’s office and the Florida’s Supreme Court, since the next governor will pick THREE of seven justices ‒ to Donald Trump’s stooge and manservant, Ron DeSantis?

Man, y’all get the hell out of here with that.

This is Trump’s world
Americans have been reduced to “squirrels trying to get a nut,” in the immortal words of Oran “Juice” Jones, in King Don’s TrumpWorld.

TrumpWorld includes telling bold-faced lies in the face of scientific fact. It includes making up domestic and foreign “policy’’ as you go along, with the primary goal of making you, your family and cronies even more filthy stinking rich than you already are.

On the state level, “Slim Shady’’ Rick Scott can probably show King Don a trick or two about using the power of elected office to enrich oneself.

How it’s done
Remember that high-speed train project to be paid for with federal tax money that Scott cancelled in 2011? He’s changed his mind and is now supporting high-speed rail. Why? Because he and his wife have an investment in one company that would finance it as a privately funded project and had an investment in another company that made parts for the trains.

According to federal documents and published reports, Scott and his wife are worth more than $250 million. Since Scott took office, he’s at least $85 million richer from investments in drug companies, gas pipelines, and the Florida SunPass system ‒ all of which are regulated by state agencies that Scott controls. And he worked with the GOP-dominated Florida Legislature to pass a law that kept his investment portfolio secret while he was in office.

THAT’s world-class corruption. But Scott probably won’t be investigated or indicted because of his brazenness and wealth.

Corruption is baked into American politics through corrupt legislation and gatekeeping lawyers. Personal wealth allows Scott, Trump, and people of their ilk to hire the best lawyers on the planet to beat back criminal or civil charges for what amounts to tip money for them.

And if you are White, male, and shameless, you get the benefit of the doubt. People will disbelieve their own eyes and rationalize their common sense. Example: Supreme Court Justice Brett “Frat Boy” Kavanaugh.

Still the same
Don’t forget the FBI. If one good thing has come out of TrumpWorld paranoia, it’s the uncovering of documents and activities that indicate that the FBI’s dirty tricks, political partisanship and favorable disposition toward White supremacy continue unabated, their 21st-century mythological “good guy” reputation notwithstanding.

U.S. federal law enforcement, in conjunction with racist local police forces and prosecutors, have tried to stymie Black progress and destroy Black leadership since the days of Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. DuBois. Nothing’s changed.

Black politicians doing time
African-American elected politicians, in our opinion, continue to be disproportionately targeted by the feds primarily for legal sloppiness, especially regarding campaign laws, rather than actual corruption.

One egregious example: Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown may die in prison for not properly setting up and operating a nonprofit scholarship fund. Other Black politicians have done federal time for the equivalent of using a campaign debit card to buy a Happy Meal at McDonald’s’. All they needed to avoid prison time was a knowledgeable lawyer.

Even now, the FBI, which is part of King Don’s Department of Justice (headed by Jefferson Beauregard Sessions of Alabama), has identified “Black identity extremists,” not White nationalist racists, as the major domestic threat to America.

In other words, the FBI is lumping the Black Lives Matter movement with the same group of disgruntled White (mostly young male) racists who marched and chanted “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2016. (One of their number drove a car through a group of nonviolent protesters the next day, killing one.)

Sessions is presiding over the modern-day extension of the FBI’s notorious COINTELPRO (Counter-Intelligence Program) that criminalized civil rights workers and Black activists, particularly the Black Panther Party, for constitutionally protected activity. Longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, now dead, is quoted as saying that “the purpose of (FBI) counterintelligence action is to disrupt…and it is immaterial whether facts exist to substantiate the charge.”

We hope Gillum and his entourage, including his brother, dime-dropping friend and FBI agents, had good seats at “Hamilton” and enjoyed the show. We hope Gillum and his wife renewed themselves in Costa Rica, ate lots of red velvet cupcakes, and came back to Florida refreshed and ready to put up with the foolishness that surrounds modern elected politics.

Will a show ticket, a second honeymoon, a James Comey/Hillary Clinton-style announcement setting out the “facts,’’ or even a federal indictment prevent us from recommending that Black Floridians cast their ballots for Gillum?

NO.

Our real concern
Andrew Gillum is not corrupt. Our chief concern is whether Andrew Gillum is a Sunshine State version of Barack Obama ‒ a Black politician who wins with near-unanimous Black political support, but who forgets who put him there immediately after he’s sworn in.

We’ve heard Gillum say he’ll be “the governor of all Floridians.” We understand he has to say that to soothe the insecure egos and fevered brows of White Floridians who get instinctively nervous anytime a Black person is in charge.

What’s Florida’s Black agenda? It includes (but is not limited to) forcing state agencies to do billions of dollars of business with Black-owned vendors. “Billions” are reasonable, considering Florida’s 2017-2018 budget is more than $82 billion and Blacks are 17 percent of Florida’s population.

Here’s some historical context. Republican Jeb Bush ended affirmative action in state procurement during his eight years in office. By 2001, Florida was spending more than $500 million with Black-owned businesses ‒ the highest amount in the state’s history. Why? Because Bush needed to personally prove that Black business activity could increase without so-called “quotas.’’

Subsequent Governors Charlie Crist and Slim Shady Scott haven’t been interested in proving anything. As we reported years ago in our investigative series titled “Approaching Zero,” Black business activity dropped every year under both Crist and Scott and is now below $100 million. The state barely keeps track anymore.

Our ‘to-do’ list

Our Black agenda includes re-empowering the Office of Supplier Diversity to keep score of whether the state is spending money with Black businesses.

It includes appointing consciously “woke’’ people to state and local agencies. It includes always considering the impact of legislation on Black Floridians, and vetoing such legislation as necessary.

It includes restoring the rights of ex-felons whether Amendment 4 passes or not, and making sure that ex-felons can once again enjoy their rights as citizens as soon as possible.

Gillum can do ALL of this — and more. We know that Ron DeSantis won’t.

So we strongly recommend that you vote for ANDREW GILLUM and for the remaining Democratic ticket on the state level that can help Gillum get the job done: SEAN SHAW for attorney general, JEREMY RING for chief financial officer, NICOLE “NIKKI” FRIED for agricultural commissioner. You can also expect that the Florida Courier will hold them accountable if they win.

We also recommend BILL NELSON for U.S. Senate over Slim Shady Rick Scott.

Sean Shaw
Jeremy Ring
Nicole “Nikki” Fried
Bill Nelson

Charles W. Cherry II is the publisher of the Florida Courier and the Daytona Times newspapers. He is a Morehouse College (journalism) and University of Florida (Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration) graduate. A former prosecutor and practicing attorney, he is also the author of “Excellence Without Excuse-The Black Student’s Guide to Academic Excellence.” Contact him at ccherry2@gmail.com.

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